Immigration in Spotlight as Budget Battle Intensifies

© Greg Nash – UPI Photo

Congressional leaders are jockeying for position in the legislative battle to keep the government open that is expected to dominate their final weeks in session this year.

Democrats driven to win a legislative fix to an Obama-era program allowing hundreds of thousands of young immigrants to stay and work in the United States signaled flexibility.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) in a statement accepting an invitation to meet at the White House on Thursday said a “bipartisan deal” could be found to pass the “DREAM Act along with tough border security measures.”

“There is a bipartisan path forward on all of these items,” the two said in the statement, which also emphasized the need to boost defense and nondefense spending and provide disaster relief.

Senate GOP leaders struck a harder line, with Whip John Cornyn (Texas) saying there is “no way” a year-end spending bill will include language to protect the young immigrants.
Cornyn spoke a day after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declared it a “ridiculous position” for Democrats to say that a fix on the issue had to come as part of the funding bill.

McConnell noted that Congress has until March before those covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program lose protections from the program President Trump is ending.

“I don’t think the Democrats would be very smart to say they want to shut down the government over a nonemergency,” McConnell said on ABC’s “This Week.”

At the same time, both McConnell and Cornyn have suggested that Republicans can agree to a deal on the “Dreamers,” with Cornyn saying it could come before March.

“I’d be happy to do it earlier but not as part of the spending bill, no way,” he said.

The government will shut down on Saturday without a short-term deal to keep funding going.

Lawmakers are expected to approve a two-week measure that would create another deadline to fund the government on Dec. 22, just before the holidays.

By Alexander Bolton for THE HILL
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